Sony’s new 100mm: highest quality bokeh for an Alpha lens

Sony’s new FE 100mm F2.8i STF GM OSS telephoto prime lens goes after a new title: highest ever quality bokeh for a lens of its category. Sony also launched a new 85mm lens and a compact radio-controlled flash.

Sony’s new 100mm: best bokeh for an Alpha lens

If bokeh is your thing, no matter how you pronounce it, the FE 100mm F2.8i STF GM OSS is your lens, in terms of the Sony family. But don’t forget the new 85mm f/1.8 for portrait.

It produces “truly unique, magnificent and beautiful bokeh” says Sony, while maintaining the exceptional standard of resolution that is showcased throughout Sony’s entire line-up of flagship G Master series lenses. Yes, it’s the new 100mm, a value we so many times associate with macro but that here comes as a telephoto – equally exciting. The focal length makes it a powerful photographic tool for any portrait, fashion, nature or wedding photographer.

Sony’s new 100mm: best bokeh for an Alpha lens

A specially designed mid-telephoto, full-frame prime lens, the 100mm features a with a unique STF (Smooth Trans Focus) design, which makes it possible to reach the bokeh level Sony claims as the highest in a lens of the Alpha family. These impressive defocus capabilities are made possible by the lens’ advanced optical structure, as it features a newly designed 11-bladed aperture and a unique optical apodization lens element.

Sony’s tech information explains that “similar to a neutral density filter that increases in density towards the edges, the apodization element creates beautiful transitions of in-focus to out-of-focus areas within an image, making for exceptionally soft, smooth bokeh that adds depth and dimensionality. This allows the subjects to stand out against beautifully defocused elements in both the foreground and background, producing an image that is naturally pleasing to the eye. The design of the lens also ensures that vignetting is kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring optimum image quality.“

Additionally, the new 100mm lens supports both contrast AF and focal-plane phase detection AF,with compatible Alpha camera bodies, and has a high-precision, quiet direct drive SSM (Super Sonic Motor) system that ensures exceptionally fast and accurate AF performance. The SEL100F28GM (yes, that’s the reference for this lens) also offers up to 0.25x close-up capabilities with a built-in macro switching ring, built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, a customization focus hold button, AF/MF switch, aperture ring and is also dust and moisture resistant, although Sony indicates that it is “not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof.”

Also deserving some attention, especially because it costs a lot less, is lightweight and compact and extremely luminous, the full-frame FE 85mm f/1.8 is a mid-telephoto prime lens which offers an extremely versatile solution for a variety of Sony camera owners ranging from working professionals to emerging enthusiasts that have stepped up to an APS-C or full-frame camera for the first time.

Sony’s new 100mm: best bokeh for an Alpha lens

The new SEL85F18 (yes, the code name for the 85mm) features a 9-bladed circular aperture mechanism that ensures smooth, natural looking bokeh – the aperture of f/1.8 will take care of the background –  and a double linear motor system to allow for fast, precise and quiet focusing. It also has a focus hold button that can be customized and assigned together with functions in the camera body like the popular Eye-AF feature. There is a smooth, responsive focus ring and AF/MF switch and the lens is also dust and moisture resistant, with the same warning note as for the 100mm.

The third product launched is a new compact flash featuring radio-control. The new HVL-F45RM flash, designed to complement the compact bodies of Sony’s E-mount camera line-up including full-frame α7 models, produces a maximum lighting output as expansive as GN45 (105mm, in meters at ISO 100), ensuring sufficient illumination even when shooting with bounce lighting or high-speed-sync (HSS) flash.

Sony’s new 100mm: best bokeh for an Alpha lens

Designed to offer a a compact professional shooting solution when combined with the currently available wireless remote controller FA-WRC1M and receiver FA-WRR1, the HVL-F45RM  can be used as a transmitter or a receiver at up to 30m (approx. 98 feet), making it an ideal fit for creative lighting with multiple flashes. Additionally, unlike optical flash systems, radio-control flashes do not require a direct line-of-sight between components to function properly, while also minimising any impact that bright sunlight has on signal transmission and control.

The info available indicates that the HVL-F45RM flash has a battery able to power it for up to 210 bursts. The unit can tilt up to 150 degrees vertically, a complete 360 degreees horizontally and up to 8o downward, to maximize versatility. Usability, adds Sony, “has been maximized with a new large, bright and highly visible LCD display, an LED light, dust and moisture resistant design and a revamped menu system that mimics those of Sony’s newest camera systems.”

The new lenses and flash will start shipping in March 2017. The SEL100F28GM will be priced at approximately $1,500 US and $2,050 CA, the SEL85F18 will be priced at approximately about $600 US and $800 CA, and the HVL-F45RM will be priced at approximately $400 US and $550 CA.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…
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